Ravens must rally around Chuck Clark post Earl Thomas release
Following the Ravens’ release of All-Pro safety Earl Thomas, fellow defensive back Chuck Clark should be the team’s rally point moving forward.
The Baltimore Ravens didn’t just release perennial Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas solely because of his now-infamous on-field altercation with fellow safety Chuck Clark. As NBC Sports’ Peter King added after Thomas’ release, the safety was “not well-liked by his teammates” and “had a pattern of being late.”
King also pointed out fellow Ravens teammates supported Clark, while hardly anyone backed up Thomas.
That, right there, could be a rallying point for Baltimore heading into 2020.
Massive shakeups, particularly the ones involving star players getting released, are never easy for even the most tight-knit squads. It’s impossible to truly gauge the kind of conversations head coach John Harbaugh had within the locker room or how some of the team’s leaders addressed feelings about Thomas being let go.
And while Thomas apparently wasn’t liked by many, the ripple effect from here on out could be one of a number of different distractions Harbaugh and Co. could experience, possibly trickling into the regular season.
Fortunately, a player like Clark can help alleviate that.
CBS Sports’ Evan Washburn (h/t NBC Sports Washington’s Mike DePrisco) might have cast a light on how Ravens players are already embracing this idea, which could have easily influenced the result King described after the altercation:
"[Clark] is kind of the guy that everyone on the defense, on the younger side and maybe even vets go to and are like, “Hey man, how does this work? How do I do this?” Like a legit defensive coordinator on the field. So it’s just one of those situations that we’ve seen over the years in professional sports where you have an uber-talented player, but if you don’t fit into the culture of the team and they feel like they’re better off without you, they’re going to make a decision that’s better for the group."
Clark, who enjoyed a career-best year in 2019 with nine pass deflections, 73 tackles and an interception, can now be the player his teammates rally around in order to show how one personality can never be above the team.
So far in training camp, it’s looking as if Clark is demonstrating why players gravitate towards him.
On Thursday, Clark was playing with what could be construed as a revitalized vigor, batting down three passes during training camp drills, one of which led to quarterback Lamar Jackson‘s first interception of camp:
Baltimore already has an elite defense, and losing Thomas doesn’t change that. But what could stand to benefit would be if the team can showcase its defensive fortitude by making Clark yet another massive centerpiece to complement All-Pro defensive backs Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters.
And if done correctly, Thomas’ presence won’t be missed at all in 2020 or beyond.